When ‘Crocodile Dundee’ became a sleeper phenomenon in 1986, earning the equivalent of £292million at the worldwide box office, Paul Hogan briefly became one of the biggest stars in the world. But 30 years on, what happened to his career after he ditched the battered hat and really big knife?
Hitting it big
Hogan was a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge when he applied to talent show ‘New Faces’ on a dare. His appearance was a big hit and paved the way for a successful TV career in Australia, starring in his own sketch show for 11 years. His advert for the Aussie tourist industry in the early 1980s was where the phrase “put another shrimp on the barbie” was originally coined.
Aged 46, he then gathered his telly collaborators together to write and produce ‘Crocodile Dundee’. Shot on a budget of £7.5m, it was the second-highest-grossing movie of 1986 – Hogan won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and was nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar. He also left his longterm first wife for his ‘Dundee’ co-star Linda Kozlowski.
Failing to emulate the success of his breakthrough
Hogan made a less-well-received sequel in 1988 and turned down the lead role in ‘Ghost’ before making two flops – ‘Almost an Angel’ and comedy Western ‘Lightning Jack’. He then starred in the big-screen adaptation of dolphin show ‘Flipper’ alongside a young Elijah Wood.
Five years later, at the 2001 press junket for threequel ‘Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles’ when asked what he’d been up to, he replied, “Nothing. Self-imposed exile.”
Living in Santa Barbara, Colorado and Australia, he took up skiing and had a son called Chance with Kozlowski.
“I’m an inspiration to everyone who thinks that at 23 if you’re not in The Backstreet Boys then you’re never going to make it,” he said.
‘Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles’, was a critical and commercial failure – it was nominated as Worst Remake or Sequel at the Razzies – and Hogan has never made another Hollywood movie, instead starring in two low-key Australian comedies including 2004’s ‘Strange Bedfellows’.
The disappointment was compounded by a subsequent feud over screenwriting credit on ‘Los Angeles’ with Hogan threatening at one point to sue the Writers Guild of America after they awarded credit to the two young scribes who’d pitched the original story. One of the writers later criticised Hogan, suggesting it was a battle over residuals, something you only get if you are actually listed as penning the script.
One of the other reasons Hogan may have stayed out of the limelight is thanks to a massive tax probe by the Australian government who chased the star for almost eight years as part of a gigantic and expensive investigation into offshore havens and alleged unpaid taxes of £85m.
Hogan consistently denied the accusations and was even banned from leaving Australia having attended his mother’s funeral in 2010. He emerged from the fight severely bruised and angry but victorious and the tax collectors finally stopped chasing him in 2012.
Divorce – and the future
Linda Kozlowski filed for divorce in 2013 after more than two decades, saying she was excited to be stepping out of Hogan’s shadow but insisting the split was amicable, a suggestion echoed by her now-76-year-old ex with whom she would co-parent Chance, now 16.
Hogan Sr was subsequently linked to Terri Irwin, widow of Crocodile Hunter Steve and publicly admitted he had his eye on then-recently-single reality star Kris Jenner, although she didn’t seem to return the feelings.
His movie career remains on hiatus, although he showed up in a 2015 episode of Aussie sketch show ‘Open Slather’ and opened up about his personal and professional life in a TV documentary called ‘Hanging with Hoges’.
In 2013 he also returned to his stage roots and went on the road, performing at venues all over Australia in ‘An Evening with Hoges’, a show he resurrected for another short tour in 2015.
Nevertheless, it looks like retirement is now back on the agenda (spending time hanging out with mates like Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta obviously), unless he could be convinced to bring back Mick for another instalment in one of the cities film execs used to try and cajole him into writing about. ‘Crocodile Dundee in Tokyo’ anyone?
Image credits: Getty, Rex_Shutterstock